Studio Policies

Printed below is a complete version of my studio policies.  You can also download it as a printable PDF by clicking here. It is my hope that these studio policies will be informative to you and streamline the music learning process as much as possible for everyone involved.

The Basics


Becoming any kind of musician is a long-term endeavor, and studying the piano is no exception. Piano lessons will primarily involve study of technique, musical expression, and developing repertoire, but will also include gaining a grasp of music theory and history, listening skills, and even ensemble playing. Achieving excellence takes time and focused attention, but the good news is that anyone can do it—talent helps, but not nearly as much as dedication to the task.


Lessons typically take place once per week at a given timeslot during the school year, and less frequently in the summer. Studio classes are scheduled two or three times per trimester, with recitals at the end of each trimester. Please see the Scheduling and Rescheduling section for more detailed information


Practice, Practice, Practice


While taking regular lessons is essential to your musical growth, just as much (if not more!) learning takes place during your or your child’s independent practice. Students should practice every day if possible, for an amount of time suitable for their maturity and attention span. Missing days occasionally is not the end of the world, but don’t make a habit of it!


As general rules of thumb, the youngest students (below age 9) can typically handle 15-30 minutes per day, older elementary and middle-school students should put in 30-40 minutes, and finally high school students and adults should aim for at least one hour, or more depending on your level of commitment and desire for faster progress. Children below age 9 need active parental supervision with their practice, and children aged 9-14 benefit from at least occasional monitoring and involvement.


If for whatever reason you don’t feel able to put in this recommended amount of time, please talk to me before making a non-refundable payment.


Let’s See if We’re a Good Fit


All new students begin with a set of two trial lessons, scheduled about a week apart. The purpose of this arrangement is to get a sense of how well we will work together as teacher and student, and to give you a chance to practice concepts on your own for a week to see whether or not they work for you. The cost of a trial lesson set varies depending on the length of each lesson, as follows:


30-min. lessons: $100

45-min. lessons: $130

60-min. lessons: $160


In addition, a $10 commuting surcharge is added if I’ll be driving to your location to teach. (Taking lessons at the studio is strongly preferred.)


If all goes well and you’d like to continue taking lessons, see the next section for details.


How Much Will It Cost?


Tuition for regular lessons is billed in a three-trimester system, with four months per trimester. Fall (September–December) and Spring (January–April) trimesters include 13 lessons each, and the Summer (May–August) trimester includes 10 lessons (the “13/13/10 lesson commitment”). Tuition will be prorated for students beginning mid-trimester.


Rates depend on lesson length as follows:


Fall and Spring (per each trimester)

30-min. lessons: $710

45-min. lessons: $905

60-min. lessons: $1100



30-min. lessons: $500

45-min. lessons: $650

60-min. lessons: $800

Get Ready for Prime Time!


A critical part of your musical development is practicing your public performance skills. To help prepare you for our two annual recitals and any other performances you may have, a studio class will be held 2 or 3 times per trimester at my studio in Northeast D.C. This class offers a chance to play through your repertoire in a less stressful environment than a public recital, and receive helpful comments from your peers. Attendance is highly encouraged, and students should perform in class at least once before the studio recital.


Studio recitals are scheduled twice a year, in December and April. This is the chance to showcase your talent and hard work for your peers, friends, family, and guests! We’ll work together to choose one or two pieces at just the right level to challenge yourself. Recitals will be videotaped and some excerpts uploaded to YouTube (with your permission). Location and timing for recitals will be decided approximately one month in advance.


Care and Feeding of Your Piano


Having a quality instrument at home is an important part of your musical progress, since the majority of your time learning the piano will be spent on this instrument. A well maintained grand or upright piano is preferred, as practice on these instruments will prepare you to succeed in performing on most concert pianos. An electric keyboard or digital piano is not a workable substitute for an acoustic instrument—the way the instrument responds to your touch is quite different. Electronic instruments are only acceptable as temporary solutions while you do the necessary preparation and search for a long-term piano.


If you feel lost looking for an instrument, I can probably help you narrow down the choices. Let me know if you have any questions—choosing a piano is a big decision, and not one to rush into uninformed! Once you’ve got a suitable instrument, some regular maintenance is required. Have it tuned by an expert piano technician about twice a year with the change in seasons, and ask your technician about keeping the humidity regulated near the piano.


Maintaining a good environment can add years to your piano’s life and keep it better in tune as well.


Smile for the Camera


With your permission, photos and videos of lessons, studio classes, and recitals will be posted online for your use and reference, as well as for promotional purposes. Giving your permission is optional and will not affect your rate or scheduling preference in the studio. Please fill out the Media Release section of the Studio Policy Acknowledgement form to tell me your preference about media use.


Your Online One-Stop Shop


Students and parents can access their online account at Music Teacher's Helper to view invoices and schedules, make payments, and request rescheduling for a lesson. Once you enroll in lessons, you can register for an online account.


A Lifelong Journey


Thanks for taking the time to familiarize yourself with these studio policies. As you embark on the exciting journey of learning the piano, I will do my best to encourage and guide you along the way. And after life has taken you in another direction, don’t be a stranger! I love to hear about what my past students have been up to.


Best wishes and happy music-making!





I only recommend 30-minute lessons for students under age 6. 45-minute lessons are appropriate for elementary school students, while 60-minute lessons are preferred for all older children and adults. Because children under age 9 need parental supervision in their practice, I require parents to attend their lessons as well.


Tuition includes costs for lessons, studio classes, recitals, books, and supplies. If I’m driving to your location to teach, an additional commuting surcharge of $5 per lesson ($65 for Fall/Spring and $50 for Summer) will be added to your invoice. This service requires that you have an acceptable instrument in your home—please see the Care and Feeding of Your Piano section for more information. Because this significantly complicates scheduling, taking lessons at my studio in Falls Church is strongly preferred.


Payment can be made as a lump sum at the first lesson of each trimester, or monthly with 25% of that trimester’s tuition due on the 1st of each month. I accept cash, check, or PayPal (with 3% service charge). If paying monthly, please provide postdated checks for the first of each month or set up automatic payment through PayPal to avoid late payment. Payments received after these due dates are subject to a $5 per week late fee.


Payments are nonrefundable, except that you may withdraw from lessons and receive a prorated refund within the first 14 days of the trimester. Refunds after this point will only be offered for documented medical reasons or relocations beyond the control of the student and parent.


Scheduling and Rescheduling


Lessons will be set at regular weekly timeslots, chosen in consultation with you. Students are expected to be available at that slot every week. Students that take lessons continuously (including during the Summer) will have top priority for their preferred slot in each new trimester.


Understanding that situations might occasionally arise making your normal lesson time difficult, you may reschedule a lesson to a different slot in the same week up to two times per trimester, with at least 24 hours notice. Lessons cannot be rescheduled with less than 24 hours notice except in case of illness or emergency. If necessary for rescheduling, two lessons in a single week can be taken.


If you cancel an individual lesson without rescheduling, or just miss a lesson without telling me, no refund will be given. The 13/13/10 lesson commitment is designed to allow flexibility for vacations and other planned absences for both the teacher and student. As such, rescheduling more than the allowed two lessons per trimester is only allowed at my sole discretion. Exceptions will generally be made only for illness, inclement weather, and family emergencies.


To accommodate holiday plans, no lessons will be scheduled on the weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter. There are additional weeks off built into the 13/13/10 lesson commitment: roughly 2 extra weeks each for the Fall and Spring trimesters, and 7 extra weeks for the Summer trimester. These additional weeks off will be set in advance based on my schedule and any absences you inform me about at the start of the trimester.


If you know that you will be unable to attend lessons for more weeks than this plan allows, please contact me well in advance to discuss the situation.

© 2017 by Ellen Hwangbo

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